Our Story

The mission of the Coalition of Lake Associations (COLA) is to facilitate cooperation among the member Lake Associations to protect and enhance the quality of lakes and their shore areas.

Since its founding in 1991, COLA has compiled an impressive history of advocating for preservation of the public waters by participating in formation of the Becker County Comprehensive Plan, updating the Becker County Shore land Management Ordinance, serving on County Committees and representing Lake Association interests before the Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment and County Commission

However, in order to effectively serve its constituency, COLA depends of volunteer participation from Lake Association members and at this time COLA is seeking to fill various leadership and committee positions. Please consider becoming actively engaged with COLA to assist in our goal of protecting the public waters. Maintaining and improving water quality of the lakes, enhancing the value of shoreland property and being able to give to future generations the enjoyment of life on a lake is a worthwhile investment of your time as a COLA volunteer.

The Coalition has a three-tiered organizational structure. First, the Lake Association members are the foundation of the Coalition. Second, each affiliated Lake Association elects or appoints a Representative to serve as a liaison and Board member of the Coalition. Third, the Officers of the Coalition are in turn elected by the COLA Representatives.



The Formation of the Becker COLA – a historical account of the events leading to the establishment of the Becker COLA.

7/13/06 Bruce Paakh and Bob Merritt

The idea to initiate the formation of the Becker COLA was formulated at the February 7, 1991 meeting of the Bad Medicine Lake Water Quality Committee. This meeting took place at the Forest Township Hall and was attended by Wes Streed and Bill Sanger from Bad Medicine Lake, Mike Swan of the White Earth Reservation, Bob Merritt and Dean Ash of the MN DNR, Bruce Paakh (MPCA) and Floyd Svenby (Becker County Zoning). The meeting took place to address issues concerning Bad Medicine Lake dealing with fisheries, water quality, septic system assessment, lakeshore resident education and lake management planning.

Bob Merritt and Bruce Paakh had a brief side discussion during this meeting concerning the need to establish a COLA in Becker County. It would be similar to the one in Hubbard County where common lake issues can be discussed with a large number of lake association representatives to further the cause of education, lake protection, and management in Becker County. It was thought that dealing with the same issues over and over again with each association was an inefficient use of our time and that the associations would greatly benefit from each other. Bob Merritt brought the issue up to the committee and a discussion ensued about the formation of Becker COLA. The Water Quality Committee meeting notes read: “Bob Merritt recommends that the Becker County lake associations form a coalition similar to that found in Hubbard County. It was recommended that our Board support this action. There are other good lake associations in Becker County (Turtle Lake). Bob Merritt and Bruce Paakh will develop a list (of lake association contacts and other invitees – added) and try to proceed with the coalition. Streed will contact Pat Alberg (president of the Hubbard County COLA – added) in Hubbard County requesting ideas and suggestions. Merritt will set up the first meeting.”

Merritt and Paakh developed a list of potentially interested parties and invited them to attend a meeting to discuss the formation of a Becker COLA. This meeting was held on April 11, 1991 at the Detroit Lakes Library at 7:00 pm. The meeting turnout was excellent; the meeting room was set up in a large circle around the room perimeter and all the chairs were filled. The meeting discussion centered on the reasons for the formation of the COLA. Pat Alberg (President of the Hubbard COLA) was invited to discuss the benefits of having the COLA in Hubbard County. It was decided that the group would organize the COLA and a follow up meeting was planned to develop bylaws, elect officers, etc.

An interesting situation developed before the start of the meeting that could have significantly altered the formation of the COLA. Prior to the meeting, about 5 individuals from the ULPOA (United Lake Property Owners Association) approached Bruce and suggested that there was no need to form a COLA as all the associations should simply join their organization as it was already established; the ULPOA was almost exclusively a property tax reform organization. Several key people met with Bruce and Bob and in the hallway to discuss a response to ULPOA’s attempt to redirect the COLA establishment process. Bruce advised the ULPOA representatives that they would not be successful in their attempt to absorb the Becker County lake associations. The COLA was being formed to deal with many issues other than property taxes. The ULPOA decided to withdrawal their attempt to take over the meeting.